Alfresco Adventures

Alfresco Adventures

Experience the great outdoors

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Yorkshire Three Peaks Frequently Asked Questions

Here are our most FAQ’s about our guided Yorkshire Three Events. We hope you find the answer you are looking for!

Q: What kit do I need to bring?
A: We send out a recommended kit list as soon as you book and resend it two weeks prior to your event taking place.

Q: Are there any toilets on the route?
A: Yes and No. There are toilets on arrival to the main carpark. Out on the walk there aren’t any toilets. People tend to go behind a wall. There are roughly 250,000 people that do the Yorkshire Three Peaks each year as you can imagine the two pubs that are on route are not that happy with people using their loos. If you desperately need to, we strongly advise you to ask before you use them and perhaps make a donation or buy a small drink or chocolate bar.

Q: The forecast is to be sunny, do I need to take my waterproof jacket and trousers?
A: Yes, although it isn’t forecast to rain the Yorkshire Three Peaks has some unpredictable weather at times and they are also good for keeping the wind off you as well as keeping you dry.

Q: How long does it take?
A: The aim is to complete the challenge in under 12 hours. We do have it occasionally where people take longer than 12 hours that is not a problem.

Q: Can I take my dog?
A: No. We don’t allow any dogs on our guided Yorkshire Three Peaks events.

Q: What food should I bring?
A: We recommend eating like you would on any normal day just bring more of it. Flapjack and salted crisps are good too. You will burn roughly 5000 calories and loose about 5 litres of water in sweat.

Q: How much water should I bring?
A: We recommend everybody carries atleast two litres. We do carry extra water in our support vehicle.

Q: Can I do the walk it in trainers?
A: Yes, but we recommend walking boots. Paths are rocky at times and there can be areas of boggy ground.

Q: Should I bring spare socks?
A: Yes, spare socks can help prevent blisters on sweaty feet. There is also something quite nice about putting fresh socks on tired feet.

Q: What happens if I can’t complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks or want to drop out at a certain point?
A: We have a support vehicle on all open events which if for any reason you feel like you want to stop at the 2 check points on route 10 miles in and 18 miles in, we will transport you back to the start. If you have a private booking and haven’t requested a support vehicle you can get the train from Ribblehead Viaduct or if you are at the pub after Whernside you can get a taxi back to the start. A taxi is around £25.

Q: Where do we start the walk from?
A: All our guided Yorkshire Three Peaks events start in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. We park in the national parks carpark which costs £4.50 for the day. There are other carparks which are cheaper but by paying in the national parks carpark the money generated goes back into looking after the paths etc on the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Q: Which way do the Yorkshire Three Peaks?
A: We walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks anti-clockwise. Doing Pen-y-Ghent, then Whernside and then finish with Ingleborough.

Q: Do walking poles help?
A: Yes and no. If you haven’t used them before you can often find they can get in the way, but they are also very good for taking some of the weight off your knees on the descents. We do carry some spares in our support vehicle.

Q: Will we be walking in a large group or small group?
A: We have one guide for every 10 clients so we will aim to split people into small groups.

Q: If my group are walking slower than I want to, can I leave the group?
A: Although we don’t recommend you leaving your guide as they are responsible for your safety. We can’t stop you from walking off. If you do want to leave the group you must inform your guide and we are then no longer responsible for you.

Q: Do I get a certificate on completion?
A: Yes, we offer all our clients a certificate on completion.

Q: Can and how do I sign out at the café?
A: Yes, you can write your name, email address and the time you are starting the walk, post it through the letter box. Don’t forget to sign back in though with your name, email address and time.

We hope these questions have helped. If you do think of any questions that we haven’t answered please do get in touch with us.

Struggling to think of a DofE Aim for your expedition?

Here are a few ideas for what you could do for your expedition aim for your Duke of Edinburgh Award. We offer three modes of transport on foot, by bicycle, by canoe. We hope you find theses useful!
On foot
• Explore and document cairns.
• Investigate the changes in local agriculture over the last 100 years.
• Explore an historic place made famous in a film or television programme and document the scenery.
• Investigate Roman sites around Hadrian’s Wall.
• Photograph and describe interesting old buildings along your route.

• Decorate a white t-shirt, using inspiration from the scenery that you see along your route.
• Search for forms of fungi, photograph or sketch them and record them.
• Paint different types of trees and correctly identify them.
• List and film the different kinds of birds that you see.
• As second mini aim, draw all the different star constellations that you see.

• Create a series of communication signals to use within your team.
• Do a fun team game or challenge each day to promote team building.
• Make a video diary of your team’s experiences, from camping and cooking to reaching your destination.
• Design a team motif and make a badge or accessory for each team member to wear that reflects your journey.
• As a team, identify different team roles and rotate each day.

• Monitor the levels of litter on your route and plan how you could campaign to reduce this.
• Consider the impact of vehicles on the environment along your route.
• Record evidence of wildlife breeding programmes and how you would start your own.
• Investigate the maintenance of footpaths and hedgerows.
• Study local efforts to stop the erosion of coastlines.

• Record your different emotions over the expedition and relate it to the physical challenge.
• Set a group challenge to speed walk every day for a certain period of time and keep each other going.
• Monitor what time of day people have the most energy to push themselves harder and improve your journey times.
• Film warm up and warm down sessions before and after your day’s walk.
• Monitor changing heart rates and body temperature on the expedition route.

• Write a series of poems of your experiences and critique them.
• Visit areas which inspired poetry, such as the Lake District and Wordsworth.
• Explore sites made famous in folklore, such as Robin Hood’s legendary home of Sherwood Forest.
• Use your funniest expedition moments to create a play and perform it as your presentation.
• Write a short ghost story or mystery tale based loosely on your expedition.

By bicycle
• Keep a log of the weather throughout your expedition and how you adapted to it as a team.
• Create a team song or chant to motivate each other and use it in your
• Monitor how well the group stay together using distance between lead and rear cyclist as a guide, and improve this over your expedition.
• Create a video diary of your team’s expedition, concentrating on positives about each other.
• Investigate difficulties in communication when cycling and find methods to overcome them.

• Make a documentary about the most common wildlife in the area.
• Investigate the features of a river using an adjacent cycle path.
• Sketch some of the insects you spot and find out what they are.
• Photograph different types of flora and fauna on your route and compare them with each other.
• Create a nature guide of your route for future visitors.

• Consider the impact of tourism on your surroundings.
• Examine the conservation efforts for wildlife in ponds and lakes on your route.
• Monitor the management of paths on your route, such as fallen trees and overgrowth.
• Investigate the erosion caused by bikes compared to foot travel.
• Study the state of repair of bike-friendly styles and gates.

• Find clues to local industry or crafts that historically took place where you visit.
• Plan a route near a castle and explore how old it is and who occupied it in the past.
• Cycle along parts of a disused railway to explore its history and use of any surviving buildings.
• Note the period and style of architecture of interesting buildings you pass.
• Plan a tour of famous battlefields, learning about their history.

By wheelchair
• Create a training film for other groups about navigation and expedition skills.
• Make a diary of the group’s experiences and how you supported each other.
• Create a mood board showing the team’s changes in mood throughout the expedition and how you have helped each other through hard times.
• As a team, identify skills you would like to improve and create a team diary showing how you are improving.
• As a team, create an expedition music playlist that represents your experiences.

• Draw tree silhouettes to create a piece of artwork for your presentation.
• Prepare a route along a towpath and note the wildlife you see.
• Sketch wildlife you see and do an exhibition at the end of your expedition.
• Report on the accessibility of open spaces to wheelchair users and others with restricted mobility.
• Photograph and identify different types of stones and rocks.

• Discover sites tied to local myths and legends.
• Produce an illustrated guide to a stretch of canal, focusing on its history.
• Follow a disused railway track and investigate ruins and new uses of old buildings.
• Take photographs of historic sites on your route and create a calendar.
• Draw buildings of different periods along your route.

By canoe/kayak
• Investigate Second World War defenses.
• Note the age and history of buildings and areas that you pass.
• Plot the course of a canal and explore the history of why it was built in that location.
• Use authentic old canoes or kayaks and compare how they are made and used compared to modern techniques.
• Sea kayak alongside the D-Day Normandy beaches.

• List different flora and fauna that you see by the side of the canal.
• Sketch all the colours you see in nature and create a colour wheel.
• Make a recording of the sounds of nature you hear on your expedition.
• Investigate samples of the river bed on your route and compare them with each other.
• Investigate the use of towpaths, type and frequency of use.

• Help make a canal navigable by keeping a log of parts that need clearing and send it to the owners of the waterway.
• Monitor the human contamination of the waterway and its immediate surroundings.
• Consider the impact of boat traffic on local wildlife.
• Photograph weirs and other water features and investigate their use.
• Study the effect of human erosion on towpaths.

• After keeping a daily log, each evening, reflect on what challenged and tested your team, suggesting ways of dealing with possible future problems.
• Analyse the team’s need to have a leader and what skills and qualities they should have.
• As a team, investigate problems in communication when canoeing and find methods to make it easier.
• Produce a promotional film about how much fun a canoe expedition can be.
• As a team, record your expedition experiences and create a scrap book.

These suggested aims have been taken from the official DofE website.


Easter Bike Packing Micro Adventure

We hope you all had a great Easter weekend. We certainly did, we had a family trip out to Monk Park Farm near Thirsk. Arlo has a love for tractors and farm animals. He was in his element!

We have spent a lot of time talking over the last few months about where we should go for a family holiday this summer. We decided on a 4 day bike packing trip, where we haven’t decided yet though.

Friday afternoon Gem said “Sam why don’t we cycle to Muker and camp the night” Me: “Aye go on then” so we did we loaded the trailer and our bags for a night of adventure. Inspired by the ‘Micro Adventures’ book written by Alastair Humphreys. We set off on our one night of adventure!  


We had packed boil in bag meals but two minutes down the road the smell of fish and chips was too good to pass. It was Good Friday after all, so we picked up fish and chips from the fish van in Reeth and cycled to Healaugh to eat them on the green. Great cycling fuel!

We then got back on the bikes and headed another five and half miles down Swaledale to Muker. Where we camped at Usha Gap Campsite- the campsite is great, the facilities are amazingly good and it’s a stones throw away from a great pub.

9.5 miles up and down dale we arrived in Muker. The kids still had the energy to run wild, off they went exploring the campsite whilst Gem and I pitched the tents.

ZZZzzz a good nights sleep had by all.

Packed up for our return journey back to Reeth. This morning we had one thing on our minds ‘back to Reeth for the breakfast club’. We had 9.5 miles up and down dale with the wind on our backs thinking about that Full English Breakfast we would have when we arrived home.

The breakfast was great, we haven’t seen Millie eat that much that quick for breakfast for a long time. Massive smiles all round, Gem and I are so proud she cycled all that way with no moaning aged 7. Arlo just wanted to go faster all the time on the back Gems bike. “Mum faster” every five minutes.

Our little Easter micro adventure complete! Next time we aim to have three days away bike packing before the summer where we would like to do a four day trip!

Things to know when Navigating in the hills


Always check the weather as late as possible ( Changes- these are key to weather watching. Note the direction of the wind when you start and the type and height of the clouds. Do the same with the temperature and barometric pressure if you have a device for doing this. Note pressure also reduces with altitude so if climbing you need to take this into account. It gets 1 degree colder per 100m of ascent. If there is a change then something is happening, generally a cold or warm front is approaching or passing or has passed.
Where is the Low Pressure area? In the northern hemisphere if you stand with your back to the wind the low pressure is on your left.

A low (anticyclone or depression) rotates anticlockwise and high vice versa. The weather ‘flows’ from high to low. Hence the term filling. Imagine them as two cylinders of water joined by a pipe at the base. You can always see the direction of spin by the fronts. All weather systems in the world move from west to east. Notice that the wind direction is not along the isobars (line of constant pressure akin to contours). The wind flows into lows and out of highs.

Warm Front- mass of warm air rising up and over cold.

Cold Front- mass of cold air pushing under the warm air.


1:25000- OS Explorer- Detailed and open access areas marked.
1:50000- OS Landranger- Good for planning, hill forms easier to see and cover a large area.
1:40000- Harvey Maps- designed for walkers and cyclists.
The Harvey maps are designed specifically for the outdoor user; however, the symbols and contour intervals are from Ordnance Survey maps.
Grid References
The National Grid
Before we look at what the grid reference numbers mean, it’s important to understand the wider picture of the National Grid.
Ordnance Survey divides Great Britain into 100 km by 100 km squares, each with a two-letter code. The two-letter codes can be found printed in faint-blue capitals on Ordnance Survey maps and can also be found in the map key.
The first letter, for example ‘S’, denotes 500 km by 500 km squares and this is subdivided into 25 squares that are 100 km by 100 km within it, making ‘ST’, ‘SU’, ‘SO’ and so on.
There are four main first letters: ‘S’, ‘T’, ‘N’ and ‘H’ covering Great Britain, plus an ‘O’ square covering a tiny part of North Yorkshire that is usually below tide.
A unique National Grid reference should have this two-letter descriptor followed by the grid reference numbers within that square.
National Grid reference numbers
The numbers going across the map from left to right are called eastings, and go up in value eastwards, and the numbers going up the map from bottom to top are called northings, because they go up in a northward direction.
There are two main types of grid reference:
• Four-figure grid reference, such as ‘19 45’, indicates a 1 km by 1 km square on the map; and
• Six-figure grid reference, such as ‘192 454’, indicates a 100 m by 100 m square on the map.
Sometimes you may also come across:
• Eight-figure grid reference, such as ‘1926 4548’, indicates a 10 m by 10 m square on the map; and
• Ten-figure grid reference, such as ‘19267 45487’, indicates a 1 m by 1 m square on the map
In practice, it’s the six-digit grid reference number that is most commonly used, although the more digits used gives you a more precise location. GPS devices often specify at least eight-digit grid reference numbers.
Four-figure grid references
When giving a four-figure grid reference, you should always give the eastings number first and the northings number second, where you give the x coordinate first followed by the y.
An easy way to remember this is that to get the first number, you go along the corridor (horizontal, x axis, eastings) and then up the stairs (vertical, y axis, northings).
Six-figure map references
To get the six-figure grid reference, you have to imagine that the four-figure square is further divided up into tenths.
To be sure there is no doubt or confusion about which National Grid you’re referring, when you quote the six-figure grid reference you should put the two letters of the area you are in before the numbers.
For example, you may be at grid reference ‘509 582’ in south-west Scotland. The complete grid reference you should quote would be ‘NX 509 582’ (without the letters the numeric reference would be repeated in every 100 km square).


The closer they are steeper the ground is.
Contour Intervals
1:25000 OS maps- the contour spacing is 5 or 10 metres, with every 50 metres being slightly thicker- the index line.
1:50000 OS maps- every 10 metres with the index every 50 metres.
1:40000 Harvey maps- every 15metres with a thick index contour line every 75 metres.
Be aware on very steep ground (above 27degrees/ 48%) the intermediate contour lines may start to be dropped but the index contours remain.
Slope angle or gradient- To calculate the steepness of a slope over a given distance, simply divide the height gain by the distance and then multiply by 100 to get a percentage. Slopes are not uniform, so a 30% slope may map sections that are steeper.

(300/1000) *100= 30%
300m height gain
1km distance
When measuring, use the longest horizontal distance possible across an area of uniform contour spacing.
>45% possibly zigzagging on foot.
>70% is a scramble (70m in 100m). That is 7*10m contour gaps in 100m distance
Slope shapes

Terminology- summit, ring contour, valleys (Dales), spurs, re-entrants, ridges, saddles, gullies, knolls, depressions. Other natural features such as crags, limestone pavements, shake holes, scree, boulders.
Being able to interpret map contours to determine the slope angle, aspect and shape are essential skills. Contours allow you to visualise the landscape. Landform is one thing that remains constant in the countryside- walls, buildings and paths may change but hills do not.
Slope Aspect
Take the compass. Stand perpendicular to the contour and point directly downhill in your immediate vicinity.
Note the bearing.
Then place the compass on your map.
Generally there is only one possibility


Top tip- Use a digital watch.
A good way to get better at is to time when walking over the first hour and then later in the day. You can then get used to calculating timings for different speeds. Normally you are quicker by yourself and slower the larger the group size.

When working out timings remember Naismith’s Rule when walking up hill add 1 minute for every contour line up. He also said every 3 contour lines down add a minute. However we find this inaccurate so we suggest you just stick with adding 1 minute per contour line up.

Compass work

Just out of interest 360degrees is not the only compass system. There are also Grads (400), Mills which in France is 6400, in Sweden 6300 and Russia 600. The Warsaw pact countries used to read their compasses anticlockwise. One Mil subtends 1m at 1km and was and is used for artillery work.

When you might use a compass?
• Setting the map in low visibility or in a woodland
• Walking on a bearing in low visibility or darkness
• Taking a back bearing to check accuracy
• Locating on route using a spot or linear feature or transit
• Checking which path to take in featureless terrain
How might you use a compass?
Ground to map
• Point the direction of travel/ edge of compass at an object or along a transit
• Align the magnetic needle with the orienting arrow
• Reduce the number of degrees at the index mark by the amount required for magnetic variation (this is always changing check key in map for more details on variation)
• Place the compass on the map and rotate the whole baseplate until the orienting lines are parallel with the grid lines.
• Ensure the orienting arrow is pointing to Grid North (ignore the magnetic needle)
• Slide the compass up and down the grid lines until the edge of the base plate passes through the symbol of object you believe it to be.
Map to Ground
• Known starting position (point A)
• Known destination position (point B)
• Place compass on map with base plate flat against the map
• Line up base plate with points A & B with direction of travel arrow pointing towards point B
• Turn compass housing/bezel so that orienting lines on base of compass housing line up with a vertical grid line on map, ensuring that that orienting arrow is pointing to the top of the map
• Once orienting lines aligned with vertical grid line, remove compass from map and note the degrees reading at index mark
• Allow for magnetic variation – do this by adding the appropriate value* to the value at index mark. You now have a magnetic bearing.

Using the bearing
• Hold the compass in the correct position and rotate your body so that the north (red) arrow is contained within the orientation arrow of the compass housing
• Look ahead of you and draw a mental line in the direction of travel arrow of the compass
• Pick out anything that’s easily in view that you can walk towards. It could be a rock, a tree or anything distinguishable
• Walk towards that object and repeat until you reach your destination

Note: if the weather is fine and clear it may not be necessary to continually identify objects and walk towards them, for example where you have good visibility of ‘point B’. Your reason for taking a bearing could be to check that the direction you suspect to be correct is actually correct.

Navigational Strategies

Dead reckoning- timing, pacing and compass combined (poor visibility)
Aiming off- in poor visibility. Deliberately aim to miss your target when aiming for a linear feature. When you hit it you already know which side of your destination you are on.
Bearing along a linear feature- rules out virtually all other linear features on the map.
Handrail- make life easy. Ideal in poor visibility or for coarse navigation legs.
Attack point- aim for a more significant feature close to your destination. This is sometimes the changeover point between coarse and fine navigation. Pacing may come into this remember not to pace for more than 500m.
It is ok to make an error we all have and all do time to time. The most important thing is getting back on track safely. Do not be afraid to go back to your last known location even if it was over an hour ago.

Prize Draw for our Ripon to Boroughbridge Canoe trip

Two weeks ago we started a prize draw giving away two free spaces for our Ripon to Boroughbridge canoe trip on the 13th of June 2015! This is our most popular canoe experience the trip starts with everybody meeting in Ripon. We then have to shuttle a few cars to Boroughbridge and then the alfresco adventure begins down the river Ure. We use canadian canoes which are spacious and perfect for this kind of trip, we also take lots of photos which are available to download from our facebook page For more information on this trip please visit our canoe and kayak section on our website:

The winners of our free prize draw are: Sarah Bailes and Riverford Darlington and Dales. To redeem your free place please email us at

Mini adventures in Swaledale

We have recently met an adventurer Alastair Humphreys, after cycling around the world for over 4 years; he started to do mini adventures; adventures that everyone can do with little or no cost. We always want to find ways to get more people enjoying the great outdoors and getting away from the daily norm of life. We have been thinking very hard to try and offer some alfresco adventures for everyone to do in Swaledale. We have recently created some geocahes in Swaledale that are eductional giving you a litlle bit of local information in reward for finding the geocahes. Here are a few examples of what you can expect to find at the geocahes in Swaledale:

Welcome to the summit of Calver Hill

Calver Hill gives you views down Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, on the summit there is now is a pile of rubble and mining spoil to form a summit cairn. The fell is littered with signs of Calver Hill’s industrial past; there is a large disused quarry 500 metres north-west of the summit cairn, there are also disused tips, pits and shafts from former lead mines. Lead mining reached its heyday in the 19th century in this area and they were some of the most productive mines in Yorkshire. Calver Hill was a Bole hill a place where the lead from the mines was smelted in an open air furnace which used the prevailing wind to increase the heat. Burnt stones and a scattering of slag show the locations of these furnaces. Hope you’re enjoying the views.  Grid Reference NZ012 003.

Welcome to Jabz Cave

Hope you are enjoying the views of Fremington Edge, your now in Jabz Cave.

Jabz was a man who lived in nearby Reeth village in the cottage now known as Raisbeck.

He used to come up to Fremington Edge, so I’m told, to write poetry. Raisbeck Jabez was a Reeth shopkeeper, printer, stationer, bookseller and Darlington and Stockton Times agent. What a place to write poetry! Perhaps you can write a little poem from here, we look forward to reading them!

Grid Reference SE051 997.

Harkerside Top

You now have great views of Reeth. Reeth is at the junction of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, it’s a picturesque market town with a history stretching back to Saxon times. In Saxon times Reeth was only a settlement on the forest edge, but by the time of the Norman Conquest it had grown sufficiently in importance to be noted in the Doomsday Book following the Norman Conquest, Reeth went on to become a local centre of the Lead industry and the traditional craft of hand knitting. With its name originating from old English and meaning “the place by the stream”, Reeth has served the needs of its surrounding farming communities over many centuries. Whilst visiting Reeth we highly recommend you visit the museum and the ice cream parlour. SE018 971

There are more to be found. We will also be adding more mini alfresco adventures to our blog for everybody to enjoy- mountain bike routes, road cyclings routes, walking routes and mini adventures for kids from a very young age.

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year

Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year. Are you planning a challenge for 2014 check out the challenges events we have. You can do them for charity or just personal achievements. We have lots of open Yorkshire 3 peaks events this year. Fancy trying climbing and abseiling this year? Check out our calendar for dates? Hope to see y’all soon on one of our alfresco adventures. From us all from Alfresco Adventures